CRM Update Report

Just a quick update on the major upgrade to the CRM. I had a long talk today with our new CRM programmer.  He and Raj had decided to keep the present configuration largely intact until I sent the programmer (Sagarr) a response to his technical update.  He discovered that in order for us to provide the level of service I’m insisting on, we’ll be forced to change the entire configuration of the CRM.

It will take about another 2 to 3 weeks for this update to be completed. But when it’s done, each Client will have access to all the most sophisticated features of any of the best CRM’s on the market. This is a MAJOR improvement over where we have been to date.  It means we’ll run very stiff competition to the likes of Salesforce (http://salesforce.com) and Zoho (http://zoho.com).  At the same time, we’re competing head-to-head with the major providers of email marketing software such as Constant Contact (http://constantcontact.com) and Mail Chimp (http://mailchimp.com).

Pleast don’t misunderstand. I am NOT claiming that our services will be as well-defined and that we’ll have the instant capacity of these large companies to service just as many customers as they have (notice that Zoho currently has over 6 million users).  But I “AM” saying that the platform we’ll have within about 3 weeks will have ALL the same capabilities. The only thing we’ll lack will be in two categories

  1. CONTENT: A certain amount of free content needs to be developed. Specifically, this will be in the form of such things as free email templates for newsletters and the like, or a library of free form letters our customers can use to make their communications jobs easier.  We’ll also need to develop a large library of training materials, hold training webinars (eventually) and otherwise help our Clients to use our services (which means an ever-growing support staff).
  2. CAPACITY: As we grow, we’ll need to add servers and distribute the various functions across an increasing number of servers in the server farm.  Included in this will be the establishment of our own email servers, database servers, control servers, etc.  It’s a monumental task, but with the growth I anticipate in the coming year, I am confident we’ll have the cash flow required to accomplish this task.

Today’s discussion was a truly major development so I thought it was worthy of a 2nd Blog Post in one day.  Please expect that we’re going to have some difficulty switching between the current CRM and the newly upgraded system.  They are completely different and will require custom installations for each and every Client, Agent and User.  But it’s worth the effort in the long run.

Sufficient Progress – Start Sales Tomorrow

I finally made enough progress with the tutorial videos that I feel comfortable beginning a more aggressive sales approach beginning tomorrow.  Please check the Learning Center to see which tutorials have been loaded so far.  I have 3 in production right now and I expect to have them posted tonight, so if you’re reading this before Thursday night, September 13, please check back late tonight or tomorrow.

Robocalling Campaign

Tomorrow morning I’ll start a voicemail broadcast campaign (“Robocalling”) to our Insurance Agent list which has about 132,000 records.  It won’t take long to buzz through this list with voice broadcast.  But we’ve got another 500,000 records to call in many other categories as well. It all starts tomorrow morning 7:00 am.

This is a campaign I intend to do by myself. This will save the company having to pay commissions.  It’ll also help support me as well as all company expenses that keep us in business.  In the meantime, I’m also going to start recruiting and training Philippines Account Executives to handle future sales.

First Test of Promotional Deal Successful

Last Friday for the first time I tested my theory with respect to waiving the first monthly payment for the GroupCaller™ subscription.  It was successful! The Client made the purchase on Monday morning this week.  He did make a mistake on the purchase, but at least he bought and became our newest Client. I expect we’ll see a lot of success with this new concept for a sales campaign.  As I have stated before, it’s a lot more important for us to sign up new customers every day than it is to wait one or more months for a single larger sale.  Within a few months of making daily sales, this company will begin to experience profits.  And of course making a PROFIT is our sole reason to exist.

New Account Executives

Tomorrow I’ll begin training Randy, our Philippines Agent, to do more than just set appointments.  He’ll begin making sales.  His title and his responsibilities will change. He’ll be an Account Executive (“AE”) after tomorrow.  I already discussed this position in a previous article. Randy is also helping us recruit new Account Executives.  My theory is that we can begin making sales immediately thanks to the Robocalling campaign.  It will take some time to train each Account Executive. But we’ll start immediately. Within the first month I expect we’ll have sufficient AE’s to exceed the number of sales we’re making with the Robocalling Campaign.  The AE’s will only receive a very minimum Advance against future earnings. Most of their income will be a commission based of their actual collected account balance.

Seeking New Support Personnel

I have 2 people to interview in Philippines right now to take the place of Eric, who has been performing the function of Support.  Eric got a different job and will be leaving us at the end of next week. I hope you’ll join me in an expression of gratitude for the work Eric did while he was here.

I’m excited to begin working with a small support staff in the Philippines. I believe we’ll find somebody who is very stable with a good work ethic.  This will provide us with a full-time online presence as well. Because of that our Clients and anyone else will be able to go online at anytime during reasonable business hours and chat with support, getting answers to their questions and support for their problems.  I’ll write more about this later.

For now, please check back here late Friday night for my report of the first day of our Robcalling campaign.

Gearing Up For Working Weekend

Well, tonight is Friday night and I’ll be working. Again. I got another video tutorial posted yesterday but need most of the others posted before Monday. Check them out on Sunday night or Monday morning. I finally got a good format for these tutorials so it’s in sort of a template form now. I should be able to rip through production a lot faster for the rest of these lessons now that the basic production format has been established.

Increased Philippines Agents

I met with Randy Albalate today, our sole Philippines agent. I’ll transition him from being a lead-generator to an Account Executive next week. He has located about a dozen new workers for us plus we have about 18 or so applications from those we interviewed on our trip in June.  I’ll be interviewing additional people next week so we can create a bona fide sales team to target the USA finding new Clients for us. Training starts with just one, Randy, next week.  You can expect it will take 2 or 3 months to bring on several new people due to the training process. Training is necessary to produce good results. Working with Philippines-based Account Executives makes it possible for us to sell our product FAR cheaper than before, and saves us more than 50% of the commissions we would have paid to American-based Account Executives.

Robocall Campaign Starting Also

Don’t think for a moment we aren’t going to robocall our way through the new lists we just created as I have been discussing in previous articles. We are. But at the same time, we need a much more aggressive effort with cold-call predictive dialing. That’s why we need to begin immediately to recruit and train a professional sales team in Philippines. Once again, I don’t have an exact date when we’ll get aggressive about both of these efforts, but it’s coming soon.

New Programming Started, Needs To Be Completed

We started new programming yesterday for our CRM but have made no progress in the past 24 hours. Our new programmer was not responsive today to my efforts to reach him.  So, we lost another day (plus weekend). That’s part of the price we pay for being under capitalized. It means we cannot command the full attention of our technical staff because we cannot yet afford their salaries.  Everything takes much longer. Nonetheless, the work accomplished this week was very significant. Raj and I are getting convinced that the advice from this new programmer is essential. I do expect to hear from Sagar over the weekend and get started implementing the modifications before Monday. At least I have my fingers crossed!

Success On First Try Of New Promo Concept

Today I made my first sales pitch in quite awhile. I made the “waive-the-first-month-of-your-subscription” offer and the prospect loved it! He plans to get started Monday.  I have a lot of follow up to do this weekend to make sure this campaign is fully ready to implement next week.

That’s all for now. I’ll post an update her Sunday night to let you know whether/how productive I was between Friday night and Sunday night. I “do” have some personal things to attend most of the day Saturday, but will be working tonight, Saturday night and Sunday.  More coming next week!

 

Yet ANOTHER Delay – How Typical

Well I have to admit I’m a little discouraged that we STILL have to delay the start of this more aggressive sales campaign. The reason? A possible re-configuration of the programming architecture for our CRM.

This is not a small thing. In fact, if we move ahead right away and start taking on 1 to 4 new Clients every day as I anticipate will happen in the near-term, we’d have a major disaster on our hands if we had to make a “architectural” change after having added only 10’s or 100 or so new Clients.

Today I finally had my first in-depth discussion with the new CRM expert we retained. He advised us to completely change the way we are serving up our CRM services. I don’t want to get into a technical discussion of what this means. But trust me when I say that even making this change right now will cause some major heart-burn for our 4 to 5 new Clients and ourselves. But if what we are told is correct, I don’t see how we can ignore his advice because a structural change when we have many clients (50 or more) would likely cause many of them to terminate their association with us because of the hassle and problems caused to the integrity of their data and having to relearn new methods of doing the same thing.

So I am trying to coordinate a meeting between myself, our new CRM expert (Sagar from New Delhi), our dialer programmer (Raj) and our CIO (Jeff Wilson). We’ll likely meet early tomorrow afternoon.  After that session we’ll make a firm decision regarding whether or not we’re going to make the basic structural changes to our CRM database application.  This is a very, very big deal.  And very disappointing.

But it’s a lot better for us as a company to delay and ensure we don’t cause ourselves a serious problem with limitations on our system as we try to grow in the near future.

The Good News

There actually IS some good news here, though.  It’s the fact that, as you can see from the years of development, the numerous delays, the difficulties in bringing this project to market . . .”IT AIN’T EASY!”  Even a company with a huge budget would have to pass through the same developmental issues that we’re facing. This means anyone who tries to compete with us is going to have a VERY hard time figuring out how we accomplished what we did.  There’s a REASON nobody else has such a robust, integrated system as ours.  It’s hard to do!  This will yield fruit for us as soon as I can give the green light to ramping up sales.

Changing Role For Philippines Agents

Tomorrow I’ll have a serious discussion with our one active Philippines agent. He has been asking me to give work to a number of new agents (friends & acquaintances of his). I have delayed doing this, pending a successful outcome in Randy’s case (Randy is our active Agent in Philippines). He continues to work daily, but I haven’t closed any sales from his efforts yet – ON PURPOSE. This is because if I take on new clients right now, we’re going to have real problems with transitioning them to the fully-functional do-it-yourself system that’s almost ready – ESPECIALLY with the anticipated modifications to the CRM during the next couple of weeks.

So I’ll discuss with our Philippines agent during the next few days the fact that I intend to change his primary role from that of “Agent” who merely sets appointments for me and others, to “Account Executive” who takes the prospect from initial inquiry, through the Sales Presentation and Close, and then follows up with after-the-sale attention. There are major benefits to recruiting an off-shore sales staff in Philippines. In fact, using Philippines Agents as our primary sales staff was very much on my mind when I traveled there, but I didn’t follow through with the concept because at that time, I had to maintain a system that would support domestic U.S.-based sales people. Since we aren’t doing that anymore the door is wide open for this improvement. In short, it means that we’ll save 50% to 70% of the commission & bonus cost of paying American-based Account Executives, and have the same outcome.  Even better than that is the fact that it’s much easier for the Philippines Account Executives to make exceptional earnings than it is for their American counterparts.

So now, the door is wide open for a much more cost-efficient sales team! That’s a BIG “plus” for the company!